Archive for category: Blog

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EasyAsk at SuiteWorld 2012

We at EasyAsk will be very busy at the upcoming NetSuite SuiteWorld 2012 event next week in San Francisco.  At this event we will be showing our eCommerce Edition for NetSuite and Business Edition for NetSuite.  In addition, we will be unveiling a new EasyAsk Quiri solution for NetSuite (look out for the news on that!).  Click here for more information on what we will be showing for e-commerce customers.

In the past year and a half, our e-commerce business on NetSuite has grown dramatically.  As our news note said, we now have dozens of customers in a variety of industries and retail sectors.  Each has seen substantial increases in customer conversion rates and order sizes after implementing EasyAsk.  And our team has worked hard to reduce our already fast implementation times.  EasyAsk has established itself as the 3rd party search, navigation and merchandising solution of choice for NetSuite Ecommerce customers.

Please be sure to visit us in Booth EX-111 where we will be able to demonstrate our innovative and game changing products for e-commerce, business intelligence and mobile solutions.

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EasyAsk Named Cool Vendor

It is always great to be considered Cool.  But that is usually a personal distinction.  Now Cool is an attribute given to software vendors such as EasyAsk.

EasyAsk is proud to announce that we have been included in the list of “Cool Vendors” in the ‘Cool Vendors in Analytics and Business Intelligence, 2012’* report by Gartner, Inc.  We feel this is an accomplishment due to our products, our team, and most of all our customers.

As we look at our market position today, EasyAsk has dramatically expanded its solution footprint and customer reach in the past 12 months.  Direct sales to customers have grown.  We’ve forged new solution partnerships with IBM Big Insights and SugarCRM while expanding our partnerships with Infor and NetSuite.  We have also more than doubled the number of channel partners we work with, including our distribution partnership with BrainSell in the SugarCRM market.

Our eCommerce edition product continues to be the clear solution leader in e-commerce search, navigation and merchandising.  No other vendor can come close to performing the long-tail natural language searches that EasyAsk does, nor can any vendor make merchandising as easy to use as EasyAsk.

And our new Quiri product is revolutionizing the way people use mobile devices and mobile corporate applications.  Quiri is the only solution on the market that provides Siri-like voice-enabled natural language tools that work with your corporate data and applications.

Thank you, Gartner.  And a special thank you to our customers and partners.

 

*  Gartner “Cool Vendors in Analytics and Business Intelligence, 2012” by Bill Gassman, Douglas Laney, Andreas Bitterer, David Newman, Rita L. Sallam, James Richardson, 27 April 2012

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

 

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EasyAsk Brings Intelligence and Control Lucene/Solr Can’t Touch

Lucene/Solr is great for developers that enjoy tinkering with code as if it’s DNA and you’re working on the Captain America Super-Soldier Serum. But what if you don’t have the time or resources? What if you’re a company that cannot afford the manpower or hours needed to work on the open-source, Java-based search library? What if… what you need is a rich, mature product with the most accurate search engine on the planet?

Apache Lucene, for those who are unclear on the difference, is the library and Apache Solr is a layer of code on top of Lucene that turns it into a search platform, adding management and website APIs that are tailored for e-commerce. With Lucene/Solr you get a basic search engine, that requires a large IT staff or an army of consultants. It takes a lot of time, experience and troubleshooting to get the results you’re hoping for.

But let’s say you’ve outgrown the basic search functionality, or get frustrated having to build everything you need. And you’ve noticed how the e-commerce community has shifted to mobile sites with voice-recognition, and the abilities of open-source seem more and more limited. So wouldn’t you be tired of continuing to compete with every other e-commerce company that is trying to do the same thing with the same keyword-hampered technology? Why wouldn’t you want to stand out from the pack?

Where Lucene/Solr falls short, EasyAsk excels.

Companies like IBM, Magento, NetSuite, Infor and more have partnered with EasyAsk for a reason. The powerful Natural Language search-box and easy-to-use merchandising tools allow you to perform tasks a keyword-based software (Lucene/Solr) can’t even dream of. The intuitive site-search, dynamic navigation, and merchandising software utilizes Natural Language to increase conversion rates. It understands the intent of the search and delivers faster, more accurate results than keyword or navigation-driven softwares. The limitations you find with Lucene/Solr are simply not found with EasyAsk.

From understanding numeric units, to intelligent term relaxation, to merchandising capabilities like: Cross-Sell/Up-Sell promotions, EasyAsk has proven to bring something to the table that Lucene and Solr just can’t touch. Not to mention with EasyAsk you’re a step ahead of the game.

Take a quick look around and see which direction the technological world is headed. IBM’s Watson, Apple’s Siri, Nuance’s Dragon-Go, Panasonic’s Smart-TVs, and many more have all made the jump to a Natural Language Processing engine. It’s just a smarter way to connect with your customers.

And EasyAsk has been a leader in Natural Language for over a decade.

For example, on an EasyAsk-powered site, you can use your iPhone 4S or Android to verbally search for products on their mobile-sites. And thanks to the natural language engine that powers EasyAsk, they’ll find exactly what they’re looking for. Go to Lands’ End’s site on your phone, type-in or speak a product you’d like to see and a price constraint (i.e. Black Sleeveless Dresses for under $100) and see for yourself how powerful EasyAsk is. You’re not going to find that functionality with an open-source, keyword-based software.

Also the EasyAsk Commerce Studio puts the power back in the hands of the merchandiser. Want to add a new brand for your site, or cross-sell a couple of items? No problem, it literally takes a minute. To see what I’m talking about click here.

Look, if you want to keep trying to reinvent the wheel, go right ahead. But if you’re tired of sputtering in a Model-T and you’d rather upgrade to a search that’s better, the wave of the future, comes with merchandising capabilities that Lucene/Solr just can’t match, come take a look at EasyAsk, the Search That Means Business.

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Siri-Cized Sites With Voice-Enabled Mobile Shopping? EasyAsk Customers Are Already There

The technological world seems to be making a shift. It began with those three days in February 2011, when IBM’s Watson computer competed on Jeopardy! (By the way, the natural language super-computer trounced the shows two biggest champions!) And culminated with Apple releasing Siri in their latest model of cell phone, the iPhone 4S on October 14th, 2011.

You can feel the buzz in the air, a change in the winds, that a paradigm-shift is coming. The ability to tell your electronics what to do.

So wouldn’t it make sense that this same technology could be used by everyday consumers to shop on their smart-phones? Isn’t it logical, that the next step will be the ability to use this natural language technology to search and purchase items on your favorite website? That this technology would improve user experience, retention and increase conversion rates? Wouldn’t you want your favorite sites to be Siri-cized?

Well, if you’re a client of EasyAsk, this power is already at your fingertips… err… voice-box.

EasyAsk-powered sites such as: Lands’ End, Harbor Freight Tools, J. Jill, True Value and Coldwater Creek, are already Siri-cized. Customers of these and other EasyAsk clients can use their iPhone 4S or Android to verbally search for their products on their mobile-sites. And thanks to the natural language engine that powers EasyAsk, they’ll find exactly what they are looking for.

Now, I hear the nay-sayers, griping about the times that Siri doesn’t work as well as they want. First of all, Siri is cutting-edge technology, so of course it’s still working out a few of the kinks. But here’s where EasyAsk differs. With Siri, the options are so varied, it’s difficult for the software to search through the entire Internet to find the right answer every time. With EasyAsk, the data needed is pulled from the company’s product catalogue. So, if you’re on Lands’ End, you’re going to be searching for items Lands’ End is known for having, like swimwear, shoes, luggage, etc. If you’re on Harbor Freight Tools, you’re going to search for items they’re known for having; air compressors, engines, toolboxes or various tools. EasyAsk understands the context of your request and retrieves the right product on the first page.

This isn’t the future; it’s the present. EasyAsk sites are and have been ahead of the game, because EasyAsk has been mastering Natural Language for over a decade. Feel free to find out more here.

So go ahead, grab your iPhone 4S or Android 2.1, jump on Lands’ End and get ready for summer by shopping for a new bathing suit or try True Value and order that new grill you’ve been waiting for. It’s as simple tapping the search box, tapping the microphone, and saying what you’re looking for.

Welcome to the future.

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Oracle Welcomes ATG and Endeca, Is Your Site Welcome Too?

You’re currently a customer of Endeca. Your site has been expensive to maintain, but it has worked well enough and you see no need to make a change. Recently however, changes have been made to the company who runs your search. Changes that could affect your relationship and your ability to do business.

In October of 2011, Oracle acquired Endeca, a leading provider of unstructured data management, Web commerce and business intelligence solutions. A year before that, they acquired the Art Technology Group, Inc. (ATG), an e-commerce software platform that is one of the industry’s top-ranked, commerce solutions. Essentially packaging a search and platform duo. But… What if you don’t own both pieces of the puzzle? What if you’re an Endeca customer, but not an ATG customer? Is your site in danger? Is your business in danger?

Before Oracle acquired these pieces of technology, Endeca and ATG were open – meaning they worked cooperatively with other solutions in the market. Didn’t matter who you had for an e-commerce platform, be it Magento, IBM’s WebSphere, in-house, etc., you could still work with Endeca.

Is that still the case?

If recent history proves prophetic, then probably not. Oracle has a history of closing the proprietary loop when they acquire a company, making them a part of the Oracle stack. If you are inside that stack, then your feeling of security should be warm-and-fuzzy. But what if you’re not inside the loop? What if you’re currently using Endeca for your search and have a platform not named ATG? Will Endeca continue to fit? Should you be concerned?

If you are concerned and don’t feel like being at the mercy of Oracle, what can you do about it?

Here’s the good news:

You do have options and one of them can kill two birds with one stone: Get out from under Oracle’s thumb and upgrade your search by switching to EasyAsk. EasyAsk provides a user-friendly and cost-effective way to make complex business data accessible to anyone. With EasyAsk’s natural language engine, it’s Apple’s Siri and IBM’s Watson rolled into one best-of-breed, site-search, navigation and merchandising tool.

In other words, it’s common sense brought to search. It also happens to be platform-agnostic, easy to maintain, plus it puts the power in the hands of the merchandisers, costing far less than Endeca, and touting the lowest total cost of ownership in the business. To learn more about e-commerce search and how it can impact your site, please read our paper, The ABC’s of E-Commerce Search.

So… You’re an Endeca customer, but you are also now a customer of Oracle, the 4th largest software company in the world. Will your company get lost in the shuffle? Maybe yes, maybe no, and you’re welcome to stick around and find out, but… Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to “Find, Analyze, and Understand” that it’s time to switch to a Search That Means Business.

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It’s elementary Watson . . . it’s all about Siri!

Without trying to be too dramatic here, everything has now changed.  The world has shifted.  We are in the midst of a technology paradigm shift.  Thank you, Siri.

Here’s the how and the why of it.  As CEO of EasyAsk, I’m certainly attentive to my company’s needs.  I have to confess, I’m one of those guys who checks on my business at the traffic light.  Yes, I know.  I’m sorry.  But, as one of those guys, I’ve also seen plenty of others driving down the road, weaving across the lanes, and working their smartphones while driving – an accident waiting to happen.

Siri fixes all of that.  Yes, there have been dictation products on the market for awhile, allowing you to press a button, dictate your text or email, send and done.   But what Siri can do goes beyond what you have seen on a smartphone before – it understands the intent of the question.  Why?  Because there’s a Natural Language engine embedded within Siri.

We all cheered when IBM Watson won on Jeopardy!  And we might see what Watson can do when applied to large problems like healthcare.  But Watson ran on a network of computers that could run the Starship Enterprise.  Siri sits in the very palm of your hand using the multitude of services available on the Internet.  Siri will be in the hands of a hundred million consumers.  Watson will cost a hundred million dollars.  Okay, maybe not that much, but you get my drift.

Back to the paradigm shift concept – With Apple Siri on every iPhone or iPad and eventually on your computers, EVERYONE will reap the benefits of voice recognition on top of natural language.  It will become the standard way we all communicate with our computers, tablets, smartphones, and more – interactively, intelligently, naturally.  Ask your question EXACTLY as you would to a live human being and you’ll get what you asked for.  This is the advantage of natural language.  THIS is the paradigm shift.

But how does this apply to the business world?  That’s where EasyAsk steps in. 

Want your customers to find products faster and easier?  Give them a better shopping experience no matter where they search from – iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac, Android, etc.  Allow them to ask for exactly what they want, ‘Ladies blue blouses under $50’.  Magically, blue blouses start appearing. EasyAsk gives your e-commerce site that, and so much more.

Now take it one step farther.  Apply this concept to your business..  You are walking into an investor meeting and want the latest sales figures.  Push a button on your smartphone and ask, ‘What was closed revenue versus forecast last month’? EasyAsk displays both the actual and forecasted sales figures!  You’ve got the answer and your investors know you are on top of things.  Now you’re talkin’! (Pun intended). 

We’ve now taken real business productivity and made it ubiquitous.  You can find the right information faster via the same natural language interface on your smartphone and your computer.  We’re interactive, we’re intelligent and it’s all natural.  Paradigm shift indeed.  Give us a call or send us a note.  We’ll help you get it done, naturally.

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Magento, EasyAsk and IJHANA

IJHANA is a global technology consulting firm that delivers progressive eCommerce sites using Magento Enterprise and Magento Go, along with Magento Extensions. IJHANA is a Magento Silver Partner and have an unmatched understanding of the Magento e-commerce plaform.

IJHANA released a new case study on integrating EasyAsk eCommerce Edition with Magento, and the benefits one client received from the EasyAsk natural language search, navigation and merchanding. Click here to read this case study.

According to Kevin Calloway, Managing Partner at IJHANA:

“The e-commerce catalog was characterized by complex descriptions and terminology requiring a search product that intuitively knew what the visitor was looking for.  The EasyAsk natural language solution was easy to implement and dramatically expanded the search and navigation capabilities, helping the site convert customers faster.”

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EasyAsk and Magento

This morning we officially announced our partnership with Magento – now part of eBay’s X.Commerce division and a driving force inside the X.Commerce platform.  Magento merchants using any edition of the Magento Commerce platform can now plug-in EasyAsk and improve customer conversion with our natural language search, navigation and merchandising.  To learn more about how EasyAsk embraces and enhances the Magento platform, please visit our Magento partner page.

We have been working with Magento for a while now and have a wildly successful customer implementation at a large, national tools retailer.  IJHANA, a leading Magento solution partner, implemented the solution at the tools retailer, and is thrilled with EasyAsk.  According to Kevin Calloway, Managing Partner at IJHANA:

“The e-commerce catalog was characterized by complex descriptions and terminology requiring a search product that intuitively knew what the visitor was looking for.  The EasyAsk natural language solution was easy to implement and dramatically expanded the search and navigation capabilities, helping the site convert customers faster.”

We are thrilled to be a part of the Magento and X.Commerce communities and look forward to working with many more Magento customers and merchants.

Thanks,

John-

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Oracle Buys Endeca – Another E-Commerce Software Company to Vanish?

Endeca goes to Oracle. Now that is big news. I’ve read nine articles analyzing the acquisition and they all paint the same picture: good news for Oracle’s BI solutions; an enhanced Oracle BI architecture with Endeca’s ability to integrate unstructured data; new functionality for Oracle BI in analyzing data from Hadoop.

The consensus is clear: the Endeca acquisition was driven by the need for Oracle to expand its BI solutions and have more offerings to sell to existing Oracle customers.

But does anyone remember when Endeca was an e-commerce search company? What about that segment of their customer base? What should Endeca e-commerce customers expect?

The acquisition news is fresh, so there is little solid information beyond a few comments expecting an integration of Endeca’s search and merchandizing with Oracle’s ATG platform. Does this imply that ATG will become the primary, or even only e-commerce platform which Endeca supports? Where does this leave customers using Endeca with other e-commerce platforms (WebSphere, Magento, others)? With all the focus on the BI aspect of this announcement, I’m not sure anyone knows the answer. . . yet!

What I can tell you is this – Endeca e-commerce customers should not be surprised if they’re treated as second-class citizens. A recent study by Computer Economics found that “42% of Oracle (ORCL) customers are dissatisfied with the quality of Oracle’s support while 58% are dissatisfied with the cost of the support.” And that was for traditional Oracle customers! What about Endeca customers coming into the fold? What about Endeca SaaS customers? Who knows?

What I can tell you for certain is that EasyAsk believes in customer satisfaction. Or as Ford Motors used to say it is ‘JOB 1’. Since we spun EasyAsk from Progress Software back in ’09, we’ve made sure our ALL our customers know how important they are to us and how committed we are to making them successful.

Providing the very best search and merchandizing technology is what EasyAsk is all about. We can deploy in a fraction of the time it takes for a traditional Endeca site and typically ¼ the costs.

Our natural language based search provides dramatically better results, while our merchandizing tools are so intuitive and easy to use you can return control of your e-commerce merchandizing to the experts – your merchandizers.

This is why NetSuite, Magento and Infor were excited to partner with EasyAsk. We provide IBM Watson-like natural language functionality that is intuitive and optimized for customers and end users. With EasyAsk powering you search, when a visitor searches for a product they get the right result the first time, every time.

Congratulations to Endeca on their sale to Oracle. I’m sure they knocked it out of the park. Congratulations to Endeca’s investors and to their employees.

For Endeca’s e-commerce customers however, this might be a different story. If you are looking for best of breed search technology, remember that EasyAsk is here for you too.

Thanks for listening,
Craig

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Steve Jobs – We Have Lost a Giant

I heard the sad news an hour ago.  Steve Jobs passed away.  My reaction was immediate.  Loss.  Steve envisioned everything I love in our technology world.  He was brilliant.  He was fearless.  He had the courage of his convictions.  He took on the world and made no apologies. 

Think about it for a minute.  Apple competed with EVERYONE !  They competed with all the PC manufacturers back in the ‘80’s.  They competed with the largest software company in the world, Microsoft.  They competed with IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell . . EVERY hardware manufacturer, almost every software company. 

APPLE did it their way, Steve’s way.  He had a vision and he never let go of it.  I loved (and bought) everything Apple ever built . . .  well, except for the Newton.  OK, no one’s perfect.  Good idea and they got it right decades later with the IPAD. 

I’ll never forget the 1984 ad introducing the Macintosh, (directed by Ridley Scott) that ran during the Super Bowl.  You could have knocked me over with a feather at the conclusion of that ad.  And it never ran again.  Are you kidding me?!

Who had the moxie, the chutzpah, the pure audacity to take on IBM like that?  One shot, but unforgettable.  Brilliant.

And, years later, after building Apple Computer into a $2 billion company, . . .  they fired him.  Maybe one of the most successful marketing moves since New Coke.  No, really.  New Coke was fabulously successful.  Not for the product, but for stimulating an unprecedented demand for Classic Coke.  The net effect was to propel Coca Cola back into first place vs. Pepsi.  Steve said his firing was one of the best things that could have happened to him.  Off he went to start NeXT Computer, then in his spare time, spun off the Graphics Group from Lucasfilm, creating Pixar.

Pixar !  What Steve had done for the PC world, he now did for the world of animation.  Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, Wall-E and many more.  26 Academy Awards,  7 Golden Globes, 3 Emmys.  He later sold it to Disney for a lousy $7.4 billion, becoming the largest single stockholder at Disney.  Astounding.

NeXT was, of course, acquired by Apple in 1997.  Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?  Steve rejoined the company and served as CEO from 1997 until a few months ago. 

Steve Jobs, thank you for my iPhone, my iPad, my Macintosh(s).  Thanks for iTunes, iBooks.  Thanks for defining ‘intuitive’ and building it into every Apple product.  Thank you for your commencement speech at Stanford, 2005.  If you haven’t had a chance to read the speech here is a link to it.

I sent this to everyone here at EasyAsk and to my 3 young adult children.  I’d strongly recommend you set aside a few minutes of your time.  It will touch your soul.

Most of all, thank you for being one hell of a role model as visionary, leader and CEO. 

And thank YOU for taking the time to read this. 

The world has lost a giant . . .

Ready to see how EasyAsk's eCommerce solution can help you? Request a demo!